The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday morning struck down a state law restricting marriage to one man and one woman, and many Michigan residents are hailing the ruling. However, while many praised how the ruling would make the Hawkeye State the first in the Midwest to OK same-sex marriage, the case will have little direct impact on Michigan.
“This is a great opinion,” said Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan’s Gay Lesbian Project. “This was a unanimous decision from Iowa’s Supreme Court and the first time we have a favorable opinion in the Midwest.”
“While the ruling itself is significant, the reasoning behind the unanimous decision is insightful, fair, and thorough,” said Julie Nemecek, co-director of Michigan Equality, a Lansing-based LBGT rights organization.
However, though Kaplan applauded the ruling, he noted that in Michigan, a similar outcome would be much more difficult to obtain. “It’s a different scenario there,” Kaplan said. “Iowa doesn’t have a constitutional amendment like we do, its civil rights laws cover LGBT people and the make-up of its Supreme Court is different than what we have here. We’d have to repeal our constitutional amendment, replace several justices on the Michigan Supreme Court before we’d be able to see a decision like this here.”
Michigan voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 that banned gay marriage and other same-sex unions.
Still, Kaplan said, other states can look to Iowa’s ruling. “I think it sets a good template for states that are similarly situated to Iowa (in terms of laws, courts, etc.) and we may see more developments in marriage equality in the Midwest, so that the successes are not just limited to the coasts.”
As the ruling is being hailed by gay rights groups across the country, opponents are not as happy.
Gary Glenn, the president of the American Family Association of Michigan opposed the ruling. “Activist judges in Iowa proved once again today how right the American Family Association of Michigan was to call for a preemptive Marriage Protection Amendment constitutionally securing the definition of one-man, one-woman marriage in our state, and how right the people of Michigan were to overwhelmingly approve it,” he said. “Homosexual activists will of course now parade counterfeit ‘marriages’ through the streets of Des Moines for a while, as they did in California, but eventually the people of Iowa will have a chance to vote on the issue, and the result will be the same there as in Michigan and 29 other states.”